It is said that Kirata people were one of the first to settle in Nepal. They are said to have ruled Nepal for about 2,500 years. Nepal is first mentioned in the late Vedic text, Atharvaveda Parisista as a place exporting blankets, and in the post-Vedic Atharva Siras Upanisad. In Samudragupta's Allahabad inscription it is mentioned as a bordering country. The 'Skanda Purana' has a separate chapter known as 'Nepal Mahatmya', which "explains in more details about the beauty and power of Nepal." Nepal is also mentioned in Hindu texts such as the Narayana Puja.
Around 500 BCE, small kingdoms and confederations of clans arose in the southern regions of Nepal. From one of these, the Shakya polity, arose a prince named Siddharta Gautama (traditionally dated 563–483 BCE), who later renounced his status to lead an ascetic life and came to be known as the Buddha ( "the enlightened one"). It is believed that the 7th Kirata king, Jitedasti, was on the throne in the Nepal valley at the time. By 250 BCE, the southern regions came under the influence of the Mauryan Empire of northern India, and Nepal later on became a nominal vassal state under the Gupta Empire in the fourth century CE. Beginning in the 3rd century CE, rulers called the Licchavis governed the Kathmandu Valley and surrounding central Nepal.
There is a good and quite detailed description of the kingdom of Nepal in the account of the renowned Chinese Buddhist pilgrim monk Xuanzang, dating fromc. 645 CE.
The Licchavi dynasty went into decline in the late eighth century, probably due to Tibetan dominance, and was followed by a Newari or Thakuri era, from 879 CE (Nepal Samvat 1), although the extent of their control over the country is uncertain. In te 11th century it seems to have included the Pokhara area.
In the early 12th century, leaders emerged in far western Nepal whose names ended with the Sanskrit suffix Malla ("wrestler"). These kings consolidated their power and ruled over the next 200 years, until the kingdom splintered into two dozen petty states. Another Malla dynasty, beginning with Jayasthiti, emerged in the Kathmandu valley in the late 14th century, and much of central Nepal again came under a unified rule. However, in 1482 the realm was divided into three kingdoms: Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhaktapur.
Detail History of Nepal
Before Nepal's emergence as a nation in the latter half of the 18th century, the designation 'Nepal' was largely
applied only to the Kathmandu Valley. Thus up until the unification of the country, Nepal's history is largely the history of the Kathmandu Valley. References to Nepal in famous Hindu epics such as the Mahabharata, Puranas and also Buddhist and Jain scriptures, establish the country's antiquity as an independent political and territorial entity. The Vamshavalis or chronicles, the oldest of which was written during the 14th century, are the only fairly reliable basis for Nepal's ancient history. The Vamshavalis mention the rule of several dynasties the Gopalas, the Abhiras and the Kiratas -- over a stretch of centuries. However, no extant historical evidence has yet authenticated the rule of these legendary dynasties. The documented history of Nepal begins with the Changu Narayan temple inscription of King Manadeva I (C 464-505 A.D.) of the Lichavi dynasty.
The Lichavis are said to have migrated into Nepal from north India in around 250 A.D. The first Lichavi king of historical importance was Manadeva 1. Another important Lichavi monarch was Anshuverma who opened trade routes to Tibet. One of his daughters, Bhrikuti, who was married to Tibetan ruler Tsrong-tsong Gompo, was instrumental in spreading the Gospel of the Buddha in Tibet and China. Anshuverma has been referred to as a man of many talents in the accounts of the Chinese traveler Huen Tsang, who had visited India in the 7th century AD.
Narendradeval another Lichavi king, initiated friendly relations with China and his successors laid the foundations of friendship with India by entering into matrimonial alliances with the Indian royal families. The Lichchhavi rule spanned over a period of about 630 years, the last ruler being Jayakamadeva.
After the fall of the Lichchhavis came the Malla period during which the foundation of the city of Kantipur (later Kathmandu) was laid. The early Malla rule started with Ari Malla in the 12th century and over the next two centuries grew into a large empire before disintegrating into small principalities which later became known as the Baisi (i.e. the twenty-two principalities). This was more or less coincidental with the emergence of the Chaubisi (i.e. twenty-four principalities). The history of these principalities remains shrouded up until the time when they joined other kingdoms, both large and small, to form the unified Kingdom of Nepal.
Jayasthiti Malla, with whom commences the later Malla period in the Kathmandu Valley, reigned towards the end of the 14th century. Though his rule was rather short, his place among the rulers in the Valley is eminent for the various social and economic reforms such as the 'Sanskritization' of the Valley people, new methods of land measurement and allocation etc. Yakshya Malla, the grandson of Jayasthiti Malla, ruled the Kathmandu Valley until almost the end of the 15th century. After his demise, the Valley was divided into three independent Valley kingdoms -- Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan -- in about 1484 A.D. This division led the Malla rulers into internecine wars for territorial and commercial gains. Mutually debilitating wars gradually weakened them and by the time of King Prithvi Narayan ShahÕs invasion of the Valley, they had by themselves reached the brink of political extinction. The last rulers were Jaya Prakash Malla, Tej Narsingh Malla and Ranjit Malla of Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur respectively.
Shah Dynasty (Unification of Nepal)
Prithvi Narayan Shah (c 1769-1775), with whom we move into the modern period of Nepal's history, was the ninth generation descendant of Dravya Shah (1559-1570), the founder of the ruling house of Gorkha. Prithvi Narayan Shah succeeded his father King Nara Bhupal Shah to the throne of Gorkha in 1743 AD. King Prithvi Narayan Shah was quite aware of the political situation of the Valley kingdoms as well as of the Barsi and Chaubisi principalities. He foresaw the need for unifying the small principalities as an urgent condition for survival in the future and set him self to the task accordingly.
His assessment of the situation among the hill principalities was correct, and the principalities were subjugated fairly easily. King Prithvi Narayan Shah's victory march began with the conquest of Nuwakot, which lies between Kathmandu and Gorkha, in 1744. After Nuwakot, he occupied strategic points in the hills surrounding the Kathmandu Valley. The ValleyÕs communications with the outside world were thus cut off. The occupation of the Kuti Pass in about 1756 stopped the ValleyÕs trade with Tibet. Finally, King Prithvi Narayan Shah entered the Valley. After the victory of Kirtipur. King Jaya Prakash Malla of Kathmandu sought help from the British and so the East India Company sent a contingent of soldiers under Captain Kinloch in 1767. The British force was defeated at Sindhuli by King Prithvi Narayan ShahÕs army. This defeat of the British completely shattered the hopes of King Jaya Prakash Malla. The capture of Kathmandu (September 25. 1768) was dramatic. As the people of Kathmandu were celebrating the festival of Indrajatra, Prithvi Narayan Shah and his men marched into the city. A throne was put on the palace courtyard for the king of Kathmandu. Prithvi Narayan Shah sat on the throne and was hailed by the people as the king of Kathmandu. Jaya Prakash Malla managed to escape with his life and took asylum in Patan. When Patan was captured a few weeks later, both Jaya Prakash Malla and the king of Patan, Tej Narsingh Mallal took refuge in Bhaktapur, which was also captured after some time. Thus the Kathmandu Valley was conquered by King Prithvi Narayan Shah and Kathmandu became the capital of the modern Nepal by 1769.
King Prithvi Narayan Shah was successful in bringing together diverse religio-ethnic groups under one national. He was a true nationalist in his outlook and was in favor of adopting a closed-door policy with regard to the British. Not only his social and economic views guided the country's socio-economic course for a long time, his use of the imagery, 'a yam between two bouldersÕ in Nepal's geopolitical context, formed the principal guideline of the country`s foreign policy for future centuries.
The War with British - The Nepalese had differences of opinion with the East India Company regarding the ownership of the land strip of the western Terai, particularly Butwal and Seoraj. The outcome of the conflict was a war with the British. The British launched their attack on the Nepali forces at Nalapani, the western most point of Nepal's frontier at the close of 1814. Though the Nepalese were able to inflict heavy losses to the British army on various fronts, the larger army and the superior weapons of the British proved too strong. The Nepali army evacuated the areas west of the Mahakali river and ultimately the treaty of Sugauli was signed with the British in 1816. Among other things, this treaty took away a large chunk of the Terai from Nepal and the rivers Mahakali and Mechi were fixed as the country's western and eastern boundaries. At this time, King Girvana Yuddha Biktram Shah was on the throne of Nepal, and the power of state was in the hands of Prime Minister Bhimsen Thapa who wielded enormous power during the rule of King Girvana Yuddha Bikram Shah and his son King Rajendra Bikram Shah.
Shah Kings Who Ruled Nepal
During the middle of the 18th Century, there were about 50 states in Nepal. The British Empire was colonizing India. King Prithvi Narayan Shah (from the state of Gorkha) believed that unless Nepal is unified, it is in danger of going into the hands of British India. He started the process by unifying the small states. In 1768, after ten years of preparation, siege and attack, Kathmandu fell to Gorkha on the day of the festival of Indra and the Virgin Goddess. Hence, Prithivi Narayan Shah is known as the creator of Nepal. He died in 1775 and was later succeeded by his son Bahadur Shah.
The new Shah rulers transferred their seats of power to Kathmandu. Altercation led to a two-year war with the British in between 1814 & 1816. Nepal was defeated and the Sugauli Treaty was signed in 1816, under which Nepal lost one-third of its territory. Another stipulation had it that British citizens would reside in Kathmandu which brought great resentment among Nepalese. The borders were subsequently closed to foreigners not to be reopened until 1951.
The then prime minister Bhimsen Thapa had to bear mortification from the defeat and he was arrested, locked up and subsequently he committed suicide in 1839. The period between1836-1846 is marked with confusion and intrigues. During that time Pandays, Basnyats, and Kunwars were fighting each other for power. In 1846, Jung Bahadur Rana declared himself as the prime minister and later "Maharajah" with powers (superior to those of the king). Then began the Rana period in Nepal which lasted up to 104 years. During this period, the country was kept in isolation and the people were deprived of political and social rights. The power structure and state money were expended for the self interest of the Ranas. The King was present but was kept under complete control of the Ranas. In 1850, Jung Bahadur visited England and France to seek foreign support for their system.
A "liberal" Rana prime minister proposed a new constitution offering a people's participation through an administrative system known as ‘Panchayat’. Village elders would solve problems locally with leaders elected to a national Panchayat. But this new idea was soon discouraged by a successor. The Nepali Congress Party under the leadership of B.P. Koirala began the movement against the Rana rule.
The rightful monarch King ‘Tribhuvan, defenseless in his palace, escapes to India under the simulation of pursuing in November 1950. The King returned from India and soon thereafter, the Ranas went to live in India. The period in between 1951 & 1959 passed with uncertainty as the King did not comply with his promise of holding elections for the constituent assembly. Finally, only under pressure from the parties, King Mahendra declared elections for the parliament in 1959.
The Nepali Congress unexpectedly got a majority in the new parliament. This led the King into doubt that he would be reduced to a ceremonial role and thus on 15 December 1960, banned the Nepali Congress and began a direct rule. Mahendra’s son King Birendra reinstated multipart after the movemenmt in 1989.
When the late King ‘Birendra’ and his entire family were killed on 2001, his brother, Gyanendra Shah became the king of Nepal. Gyanendra reinstated the parliament aftewr popolar struggle in 2006. In 2008, the newly elected constitution assembly declared the country a republic.
http://www.nepaldemocracy.org/institutions/list_shah_dynasty.htm for more: